Fun and Adventurous Graphic Memoir || Just Pretend

If you’ve been around my blog or Instagram long enough, you know my love for graphic memoirs–so when I heard about Just Pretend, I was super excited to read it! I’m so grateful I had the chance to review it in advance–this fun book was exactly what I needed.

Title: Just Pretend
Author: Tori Sharp
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Genres: MG Graphic Memoir

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Official Synopsis

Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce. 

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.

Author Tori Sharp takes us with her on a journey through the many commonplace but complex issues of fractured families, as well as the beautiful fantasy narrative that helps her cope, gorgeously illustrated and full of magic, fairies, witches and lost and found friendships.

Review

Just Pretend is a memoir about the author’s time as a seventh and eighth grader after her parents divorced, and how she coped with a lot of the complex situations she was put in. Along with that, it touches on changing friendships and creativity. I loved seeing young Tori’s excitement as she made up stories with her friends, when she shared her writing with her parents, and how she navigated tough feelings with her friends and siblings.

One of my favorite parts is when the narrative switches to the fantasy story Tori wrote at that time. The art is so beautiful, and the message so empowering, especially with how it connects with the memoir. It reminded me of Best Friends by Shannon Hale–it has a similar feel to it.

The art altogether is gorgeous–the fun, cartoony style is really expressive, from the faces to the body language. And the narrative blended in beautifully with it all.

Overall Feelings

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This is such a fun story, reminiscent of Raina Telgemeier’s and Shannon Hale’s graphic memoirs. Fans of both of those authors will really enjoy this story. I can’t wait to see what else Sharp comes up with.

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